In the 1950s, Quakers from Alabama traveled to Costa Rica to start a new life away from war and conflict. Some of the group settled in Monteverde, where we spent the better part of the last three days. While the focus is still on Costa Rican culture and what it has to offer, I can see why Costa Rica is sometimes referred to as “Gringolandia”. We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Monteverde; however, I couldn’t help but notice that many aspects were tailored to English speaking tourists. All the staff spoke English and songs played over the speakers were popular songs that we could all recognize. Additionally, it was not hard to see that a strong majority of the hotel’s residents were gringos. Obviously, foreigners to the area are ideal hotel goers; however, why do so many native Costa Rican employees speak in English by default? I think that the visitation and inclusion of gringos in Costa Rica is good for businesses; however, I could see the focus on northern countries alienating Costa Ricans in the country where they are native.
Economically, I think that the growth of ecotourism is good for Costa Rica. Foreigners being interested and investing in a country is a promising sign of potential and economic success. Additionally, so many tourists visit Costa Rica and spend money on countless activities, such as coffee tours, rainforest hikes, and beach trips, for example. We have also visited countless souvenir shops in the last week, which are in the interest of foreigners and I’m sure are an additional stimulant of the Costa Rican economy.
Conversely, environmentally, I think the shift to ecotourism from foreigners is more negative. Natural beauty is what tourists visit Costa Rica to see; however, typically, the more humans interact with nature, the less environmentally friendly. Even with the utmost respect, walking through animals’ natural habitats could potentially disturb them. I would not be surprised if many people disregard some rules are partake in small, harmful activities such as littering or picking plants. However, I think it is preferable for the environment to shift towards ecotourism over a different pursuit that would require cutting down trees to create more usable land.